Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – Long Island Pen Show Edition

My fountain pen usage picked up a bit over the last two weeks, mainly because I’ve been trying to spend about 1 hour a day writing with my fountain pens. It’s usually in the evening, as a way to relax.

I wrote the Sailor King of Pen dry. I inked it up with Sheaffer Peacock Blue from the yellow box & inkwell bottle days. Not really vintage, although probably manufactured in the 1990s. I’m not a fan of turquoise or blue inks, yet I like Peacock Blue. It’s the nostalgia and Sheaffer’s reality distortion field that gets me. The pen was inked up from January 6 through March 3, 2020.

I inked up my Red Bamboo Vanishing Point with a Pilot Black cartridge and a custom XXXF nib. My Sailor Regency Stripe, which I carry in my Fodderstack XL, is nearly out of ink, and the VP will replace it. I inked it in preparation for the Long Island Pen Show on Saturday. I wanted a full pen for any notes. More importantly, the clickable VP is easier and quicker to use than the screw-cap Regency Stripe. The reality was – no notes or need for the pen while at the show.

Long Island Pen Show

I went to the Long Island Pen Show on Saturday. I went with a friend who drove, so it was a relaxing day for me. I was looking forward to the show because I figured there would be a lot of vintage pens there. And there was. Yet, I didn’t walk away with any vintage pens. Several Sheaffers caught my eye, along with a couple Parker Vacumatics, but they all had at least one strike against them. At this point, I’m looking for perfect, so gold furniture (except gold in Sheaffer two-tone nibs, or on an otherwise exceptional Sheaffer material) was an immediate disqualification. As was the size of the pen. Oversize Sheaffers are hard to find, at least in my experience. There were several beautiful Sheaffers, but all were too thin for me to use regularly or were in a material I already had. I did walk away with one modern pen, a Diplomat Aero in Orange/Black, along with a Rhodia dotPad.

Photo of my new Orange/Black Diplomat Aero

I lucked into the Aero since it wasn’t on display. Black, red, and blue models were on display, and I had decided on the red. I asked if they had it with an extra-fine nib. The reply was they didn’t but had EFs for the black model and the orange model. However, he probably said “orange and black,” meaning only in the pen that I eventually got. But I interpreted it as meaning two different models. To which I replied, “What? Orange? Can I see that one?.” I had known about the orange, but I had completely forgotten about it and had never seen the color in real life. The orange/black combo came as a complete surprise, and it was an instant decision. I bought it from Fountain Pen Hospital, so I was able to use the $10 gift card they were giving away with admission. This brought the price down to $135, which is in the ballpark of random, sketchy eBay and Amazon sellers and a good deal among reputable, authorized sellers, which includes FPH. I’ve yet to use the pen, but it seems to be a size and weight that I’ll be able to use for long writing sessions.

Not knowing about the orange/black and lucking into it reminds me why I’m not particularly eager to buy without researching. The Aero had been on and off my want-list multiple times, so the model was well known to me. But, I hadn’t researched all the available options, and it was an impulse buy. After all, there was nothing else to bite into my pen budget and no other reasons to use the gift card. At a previous show, I used the gift card for a parts bag but didn’t find any bags that caught my attention. There was a bag of Sheaffer nibs, but the reality is that I’m a long way from being able to do nib replacements.

The one other pen I saw and really liked was a large, oversized pen by Armando Simoni Club, which I had never heard of, or if I did know of it, I had forgotten. I forget the model and can’t find it online (I was told it was new). It was grayish celluloid with silver furniture which is right in my wheelhouse these days, with a rare (in modern pens) pneumatic filling system. I was able to quickly find out that they are Italian made, and I found vague references that indicated some link to Omas. However, that Omas just have been the inspiration for the pens. Armando Simoni was one of the Omas founders. At nearly $900, I wasn’t willing to try a new to me pen brand. Plus, they promoted the nib as “Flex,” which I don’t want, although if they really mean “soft” or “springy,” it would be more acceptable to me. I do prefer nail hard nibs. While I’m willing to pay $900 for the right pen, I decided that this wasn’t it. I admit to some regret, but not enough to head back today (Sunday) and buy it. I will keep them on my radar and possibly revisit them at a future pen show. It’s the type of pen I wouldn’t buy online without seeing the material in real life first. The material is too intricate to trust to the whims of online photos and computer monitors.

I was at the show for a couple of hours around lunchtime on Saturday, and I thought the crowd was a little sparse. It was easy enough to move around and see the pens, with only the occasional congestion. So, it was great from my point-of-view. The show space was remodeled a few years ago, and since then it has been bright and relatively spacious. It has not deteriorated with time. There were tables with space to sit down and try your new ink and pens or have the coffee/tea/food that was available. It was mostly vintage pens, although Kenro was there with their brands and a spattering of other modern pens among venders. My friend bought a Lamy Safari and some notebooks. I was on the lookout for Sailor Pens but only saw a few 1911s.

My one pet peeve about vintage pens is that they usually aren’t priced. (Although a few vendors at this show had priced their vintage pens.) While I certainly don’t mind asking the price, it could save us both a lot of time if I knew that the price was well above what I’d be willing to pay for the pen. I’m not particularly eager to negotiate price, especially when I don’t know anything about current pricing levels. I don’t want to lowball the guy (or gal, but they always seem to be guys, often in fishing vests, with unpriced pens). I don’t necessarily need a great or eBay level deal. Still, unless I really want the pen, I don’t like blind negotiating when I can’t feel justified in the offer. In the end, the only thing that matters is we both accept the price. But based on this pen show, the price I’m willing to pay is well below the asking price. The exception being vintage Sheaffers, where I’m both more familiar with current pricing, and ready to pay more for the perfect vintage Sheaffer.

On the way home, we stopped at Chip’s for breakfast. While it’s a popular local chain, there’s none near me, so it was my first time there. Naturally, I had to try the meal that gave me the most variety – eggs, bacon, hash browns, pancakes, and toast. All were delicious, and I’d stop back if I’m ever near one when I’m hungry. A good ending for a good day.


Vintage Pen News: Los Angeles pen show recap // Only one point of view, but it seems long-established, and what I’d call old-school pens shows such as LA and D.C. are having troubles. It seems like part of it is organizers resisting change, or just coasting on past success. Of course, the instances of theft is also a problem not directly attributable to organizers. At the Long Island show there were signs announcing hidden cameras all over the place. Not sure if there were a lot of actual cameras (one non-hidden one) or if they were meant as a deterrent. But as this article mentions, the camera are useless if local police don’t take it seriously.

My Supply Room: The Beatles

Tuesday Toolset, Top 5 Fountain Pens Under $50 — The Pen Addict

Nibs – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

New Find: Made to Order Samples – The Well-Appointed Desk // I’m not big on sampling ink these days (I still have too much), but this seems interesting, useful and unsustainable.

Vintage Pen News: Hicks and Tiffany

Scenes from the 2020 Baltimore Pen Show: Day One — The Gentleman Stationer and Baltimore 2020 Pen Show Recap: And It Keeps Growing! — The Gentleman Stationer

I’m Back from the Baltimore Pen Show! – Notebook Joy // I came across this one from another pen blogger but forgot to make a not of which one, so a h/t to someone.

The Pen Addict #400: Pen Addict 101 – Relay FM // The Pen Addict broke out their time machine and review the history of the podcast, and then jump into pen & ink basics. An enjoyable hour, even for this longtime listener and their coverage of pens I have no personal interest in.

Where It Happens – Goodwriterspens’s Blog // OK, not very informative, but I like seeing people’s work areas.

The Pen Addict Live 2020: Atlanta and Dallas by NockCo — Kickstarter // The Pen Addict Kickstarter for 2020 has gone new live. The Coronavirus, and its potential impact on travel, is mentioned as a risk. But the main (aka higher level) reward is a Retro 51 pen.

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – February 23, 2020

Not much activity to report. No newly inked pens or pens written dry. My fountain pen usage was down this week. I started going through my photo library to eliminate duplicates. I’m using Gemini by MacPaw, and I’m at the point where the photos are close, but there are a few false positives found. So, I have to manually review the photos which sends me down memory lane. I do love Sheaffer nibs.

Photo of the nib on my Sheaffer Balance II Aspen

Sheaffer Balance II Aspen SE photo from the archives. Currently inked with Montblanc Permanent Grey.


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Inside Stationery (Pt. 02): Wolfgang Fabian – Lamy Safari – Scrively – note taking & writing

Galen Leather Co Zipper Pen Case Review – 40 Pens — The Clicky Post

Everyday Writers: Choosing the Best Pens and Pencils for Life — The Gentleman Stationer


This Just In: Sheaffer Balance Oversize Grey Marble

photo of the Sheaffer Balance Oversize grey marble on a pen stand I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating – I have a soft spot in my heart when it comes to Sheaffers, and I get weak-kneed when-ever I see a Sheaffer Balance Oversize from the 1930s. So, when this fountain pen became available from a trusted seller, it was an insta-buy, even though it was at the high end of what I was willing to pay. Who am I kidding? For a vintage Balance Oversize, I have no high end. The only question is if I can spare the money.

This is a vacuum-filler. Although I do I prefer lever-fillers since they are easier to repair. Mitigating this drawback is that this one was recently restored by Sherrell Tyree, so I’ll be worry-free for the next several years. I bought the pen from Anderson Pens, and Brian added a note about who did the restoration.

While grey may not be a popular color, I’ve always liked it, and I’m currently going through another grey phase, with many recent purchases picking gray as the color. The pen has a grey marble design, also called Grey Pearl, with good transparency. The barrel has a sharp gray pattern with some subtle color variation. The transparent areas have a ruby red color. I’m not familiar enough with these pens to know whether the ruby is original or the result of age. At least it’s uniform and looks like it could be the original color. Although my guess would be it is not, especially since in the right (or wrong) light, the edges of the grey can look brownish due to the ruby transparency beneath it. The cap has the same grey pattern, but it’s on an opaque black base rather than the transparent ruby red.

closeup photo of the Sheaffer Balance Oversize nib

Thats ink and reflections on the nib, it’s actually in great shape.

It has a 14K gold two-tone nib. I’m not a fan of gold-colored nibs, preferring silver, but the look of these nibs is my favorite. It’s stamped “Sheaffer’s Lifetime” along with the patent info. Any nib size identifier is buried beneath the section if it exists at all. It’s the size Sheaffer nib I love and consider a medium/fine. It’s as slim as, or thinner than, many modern western fine nibs. It’s not labeled as a Feather-Touch nib, but the flow is excellent. I need to do some research to see if the Lifetime nibs were the same as feather-touch nibs, with the Lifetime moniker being used on higher-end pens.

closeup photo of the Sheaffer Balance Oversize capThe pen is a white dot model, which still signified a lifetime warranty at the time the pen was sold. The clip is the hump style with a flat-topped ball. The clip and pen material dates the pen from around 1935. As mentioned, it’s a vacuum-filler, not a lever-filler. The blind-cap that controls the plunger is solid black. The plunger works smoothly, and I was able to get a proper fill with one plunge. Juggling the ink bottle while trying not to smash the nib into the bottom of the bottle made me a bit timid, which affected the amount of ink that flowed into the pen. I don’t doubt that a bottle with enough ink to cover the nib while the bottle is on a flat, stable surface would result in a completely filled pen.

I expect great things from this nib, and like all vac-fillers, the pen can be tedious to clean. I wanted an ink that would flow well and be easy to clean. Or even better, refilled with the same ink without cleaning. I picked Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz LE ink. It’s a smooth flowing blue-black ink that’s already proven it can be used for 18 straight problem fee months in a fountain pen. The only drawback is that I’ll soon run out of this limited edition ink.

The Balance Oversize gets along well with the ink. The flow has been perfect, with no skipping. There haven’t been any hard starts, but since I’ve used the pen every day, the nib hasn’t had the chance to dry out.

The Sheaffer Balance Oversize Grey Marble is about to be written dry. I picked the ink since it is easy to flush out of a pen. In this case, it will be a quick refill so that the pen can remain in active use. A great addition to my Sheaffer collection, which now has the distinction of being a core pen.

photo of the Sheaffer Balance Oversize Gray Marble with the barrel resting on the cap.

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – February 16, 2020

Photo of my newest pens - Pelikan M815 and Sailor RealoI wrote my vintage Sheaffer Balance Oversize dry this week. Well, almost dry, then I refilled it with the same R&K Blau-Schwarz LE in.

The two pens I ordered arrived, and have been inked up. I didn’t wait to use up the ink in other pens before I inked them up, despite that being my plan. The Pelikan M815 Metal Stripped SE was inked with Pelikan 4001 Blue-Back ink. The Sailor Realo got Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun ink, which is a grey ink.

I did start journalling again in the evening, although it’s been sporadic and I’m not confident that I’ll stick with it. At this point it’s mainly an excuse to use my pens.


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Off topic – Welcome to the Era of Fake Products | Wirecutter

Group Buy, Auctions, Scholarships – Newton Pens

AmazonBasics Fountain Pen Review – Penquisition and First Impressions: The AmazonBasics Fountain Pen Is Surprisingly Good — The Gentleman Stationer

This Just In: Filling Out The Retro 51 Collection (Part II)

Photo of the packaging for the Retro 51s

(L->R) Vega, 2019 Artist Series, Flint, Flare)

After receiving the four pens in my first Retro 51 FOMO order I was reminded on how intricate the craftsmanship is, so I returned to the web to see what else was available. I ended up on the Vanness website, where they had a wide selection available. I made a quick pass and added all the pens that caught my interest into the shopping cart. Then I made a pass through the cart intending to get it down to a reasonable level. Then a made a second pass through the cart with a sharper eye and did get it down to a sensible four pens. I eliminated all the smooth metal and lacquer pens along with the pricier pens. Well, four was reasonable as far as I was concerned, so I placed the order. They arrived last weekend.

The pens are:

Photo of the Retro 51 Flare and 2019 Artist Series

Smithsonian Vega Pen: This Retro 51 is based on Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed 5B Vega. The pen is a lovely bright red, accented by gold stripes. While the pen is mostly smooth, a few lines of rivets provide texture.

Artist Series 2019 Etched Copper: I’m a sucker for etched copper. It helps that I like the design of the pen. The design is by tattoo artist Katie McGowan. Like Vanness Pens, Katie is from Arkansas.

Photo of the Retro 51 Flint and Flare

Tread Collection Flint: The Tread collection is a series I was unfamiliar with until my recent explorations. The pens are acid etched with a pattern that resembles a tire tread. Well, it resembled a tire tread once the idea was in my head. The official description calls it a chain-like design.

Tread Collection Flare: This has the same pattern as the Flint, but it’s bright orange instead.

There’s also a distinctive yellow version of the Tread, but I passed on it. I did get serious consideration instead of the Flint. Taking only two of the three versions lets me claim that I have some self-control.

Photo of my four latest Retro 51 pens

There’s a couple more Retro 51s calling my name, but I only see one more in my future. The Pen Addict 2020 Kickstarter will include a Retro 51. Since I back them every year, I’ll undoubtedly end up with the pen. While I can’t rule out a new release, my Retro 51 collection is complete.